Karen Quinn's Blog
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Canyon Ranch sojourn 

Okay, I'm the luckiest person ever. Here I am at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, spending my days hiking, swimming, working out, and just plain pampering myself. I've just returned from a facial and in two hours I have a hot stone massage scheduled. Life is tough. This is my birthday present from my mom and I'm loving every minute of it. It's a great chance for us to spend time together since she lives in Denver and I'm in New York. Any other visit that we have involves the whole family, so this is just our time. Mom is truly amazing. She's 76, a cancer survivor, and does more here than I do. I could barely keep up with her today on our hike.

The food here is delicious. I think it's practically impossible to lose weight even though everything is low fat and healthy. There's so much ruffage in the food that everyone walks around here farting. It's especially bad in exercise classes when we're all down on our hands and knees. The farts just reverberate (sp?)through the room. I can't tell you how often I've been on the massage table and the masseuse is working on my backside and I'm holding in a fart. It's not my fault. It's all the ruffage. I'm sure they're used to it, but still. Tres embarassing. Other than the farting issue, the food is amazing and you can get all their recipes by going to canyonranch.com.

We start our day with a walk through the desert at 7 a.m., before it gets too hot. It's about 102 out there right now. The desert is just so beautiful with the cactus, mountains and animals. It's important to stay away from the animals because they're wild. Then it's breakfast. I have blueberry pancakes every day that are great - whole wheat - ruffage - but good. After that I go to stretch class. Man does it feel good to stretch every muscle you have for 45 minutes. After that, it's swimming pool for me - water aerobics. This is my first experience with that, and I love it. I'll take another class after swimming, like pilates or tubing or exercise ball. Then it's lunch. Also mouth watering and fart inducing. In the afternoon, I do my treadmill workout. I'll also have some appointments - today was facial and later is stone massage. I'm meeting with a doctor on Thursday to assess my heart risk. They took blood on Monday for that. I saw that commercial about the woman whose sister got mamagrams every year, but died last year of...dum dee dee dum...heart disease. So I thought I'd better check out my risk for that.

One evening I spoke about my experience writing Ivy. It was a well received talk and now people come up and introduce themselves to me like they never have on any other trip. They also gave me and my mom a free day at the Ranch because I did the talk.

I did sneak some wine in my room, so after dinner, I'll enjoy a nice glass. There are always evening activities. Lectures, star gazing, art classes, bingo on Friday night (very popular).

The people are really very nice and down to earth. Most are like me - normal looking people just trying to live a healthier lifestyle. There are a few women who are abnormally beautiful, face and breast lifted, lips plumped. They tend to be from L.A. I've talked to a few and it seems that they have very rich husbands and come here to keep up their exceptional appearance. That's a lot of pressure. I'd like to be that abnormally beautiful, of course. Who wouldn't? But I'd hate to have the pressure to keep it up in order to hold on to my rich husband. That would be a tough pill to swallow.

Anyway, it has been fun and I have two more full days of this before going back to NY. I miss the kids and Mark, but I wouldn't trade this time with my mom for anything. And the massages and facials are not bad either.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Once upon a mattress... 

I went to see my psychic on Friday. I have such a great psychic and I love going. It's better than seeing a shrink because you actually get answers to your questions. Whenever I leave, it is with a greater sense of peace and comfort. One of the big things she said was that I needed a break desperately because I push myself so hard. Luckily, my mom is taking me to Canyon Ranch on Friday. The psychic warned me that I would get sick if I didn't slow down and take better care of myself. So, I thought I'd take time while at Canyon Ranch to figure out how in God's name I'll manage to take care of myself on top of everything else. But I think it's tough for any working woman. I have the kids and need to give them time and attention. And with the kids there are a thousand other responsibilities - school, camp, after-school lessons, social problems, doctor's appointments, all that stuff you don't think of when you dream of having a cuddly little baby. I try to spend time with Mark as well. Gotta keep the marriage intact. Luckily, he's a low maintenance guy. Then there is work - writing, editing, selling, promoting, all that. Then there is me. I know that now, the politically correct view is that "you can have it all, just not at the same time." But I think that's BS. I mean, what am I supposed to give up at this time? The kids? Mark? Work? Me? So instead, I try to do it all, and often not very well. I think that's what most women do with their overwhelmed lives.

On the good news side, the psychic thought that both "Wife in the Fast Lane" and "India Fudge" would do well. I totally believe her. If she had said they wouldn't do well, I probably wouldn't have believed her. I tend to take good news to the bank and discount the bad stuff. Why not? Right?

[Warning: This paragraph should not be read by my mom, mother-in-law, or children] Mark and I are struggling with our new mattress. It is so comfy to sleep in. But (and this is hugely embarassing to write), it's so soft it makes sex really difficult. You just sink right in to the mattress and can't get leverage. Oh the positive side, I'm probably expending double the calories having sex on it. Think of the difference between running on a track and running on the beach and you'll understand. I realize now that we should have tried to have (fully dressed) sex when we were testing it out in the showroom, but we probably would have been arrested. Plus, Sam was with us and he would have died. We have two more weeks to sleep on it and return it. What do I say when they ask me why I'm taking it back? This is a real dilema. Mark thinks we should just keep it and eventually we'll get used to it. I'm not so sure. Ultimately, I'll let you know what we decide as I'm sure you are dying to know. I'm only going public with this because the experience has taught me a good lesson. Somehow, you must test a new mattress for sex when you are buying one. I don't know how, but you've got to do it or you'll be sorry.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tee Hee 

Saturday, September 17, 2005

my big fat photo shoot 

Okay, I take back all I said about getting my picture taken. Obviously the reason I hated getting my picture taken before was because I never had a team of amazing photographers, make-up artist, hair person, stylist to take the photo. The shoot today was totally professional and really fun. The guys I worked with were as nice as they could be and they made me feel comfortable and pretty. David did my makeup and hair. He was terrific. Tomorrow he's doing Erica Jong so I was in good hands. He made me look pretty amazing. I wish I had somewhere to go this evening. It's a shame to waste all this makeup and hair sitting in front of my computer. Jeff was the photographer and Brett was his assistant. They used all these lights, reflectors, etc. Jeff said all these nice things to me as I posed like, "you look so cute," "that's a great one," etc. and that gave me confidence. Danny is the photo editor from Woman's Day. He told me what to wear and set up all the shots. I especially like him because he guessed my age as 41! What a doll. Anyway, it was fun and glamorous and the opposite of what my life is usually like. After, we went to Odeon for lunch and I had an excellent lobster roll. Let's hope the photos come out well. And even if they don't, I had a blast playing movie star for the day. You can see the best picture in the January issue of Women's Day. At least I hope they pick my best one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

book sale and photo news 

Exciting news everyone! I sold my second book in the U.S. It's called "Wife in the Fast Lane" and I'm sure I've talked about it before. It is also sold in the U.K. For both books, I'll be with Simon & Schuster, which is very good. For Ivy, I was with Viking in the U.S. and Simon & Schuster for the U.K. It worked out pretty well, but I think it's easier to be with one publisher who does everything. I have no idea when the book will hit the stores, but I'll find out soon and let you know. There is a big editing job ahead and I'm planning to spend all of October doing that.

Today, a photographer is coming from Women's Day to shoot pictures of me at my desk writing. So, I spent about two hours yesterday cleaning up my desk. For the first time in months, I can see that the desk is actually made of wood. Who knew? They're sending a make-up man and hair dresser, which is very exciting. I've never had a shoot where I got make-up and hair. Stars get that all the time, but not writers. Getting my picture taken is actually excrutiating for me. I must have some kind of body image disorder and I'm sure I need psychological help for it, but oh well. Private school and summer camp tuition prevent that from happening. Really, I hate every picture that has ever been taken of me. If you look at the picture on this web site (under My Story), that was taken when I started my Smart City Kids business. I actually like that one because I was thinner and younger and my hair looked really awesome. I didn't even have it done; I was just having a good hair day. Viking rejected that picture as being too sophisticated/city oriented for "The Ivy Chronicles," so I had another photographer take photos, which I liked, but they also rejected. Then, I had another photographer take pictures, and I hated the picture he took, but Viking liked it. That's the picture that ended up on the inside flap of Ivy (luckily, it was the size of a dime). It was bigger in the U.K. edition, and that's the photo that the pundit on Richard & Judy held up and said "Can you believe Catherine Zeta Jones is going to play HER???" Vomit, vomit, gag, gag. Is it any wonder that I have a body image disorder? Anyway, I recently took that picture off my web site and put up the one I like because I couldn't bear to look at it anymore.

Here is my most unfavorite photo which of course made it into the book:

Here's are two more I liked well enough, also rejected by Viking. I had make up done and it made me look like I had cat eyes. Very exotic. Isn't the necklace cool? I borrowed it from Christian Tse:

Take a look at the bottom photo where my hair looks red and I'm giving my patented sexy, sultry stare. I like that one the best so I put it back up on the web site.

Sorry to obsess about the photo thing, but honestly, I believe I have a genuine picture taking phobia. Getting my photo taken, rejected, taken, rejected, made fun of on national TV was quite painful. I have a lump in my throat right now just thinking about it. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but still, you understand, don't you? And now, as I sit here in my workout clothes, sweaty hair, no makeup with 30 minutes to go before the photographer and his hair and make-up man comes, I realize I'd better take a shower or this new photo will be REALLY bad. Okay, bye. I'll let you know how it goes.

September 11 

Mark and I just got back from ground zero which is right around the corner. We decided to pay our respects to everyone who died on 9/11. There were lots of people milling around. Many brought flowers. Some hung up photos of their loved ones who died. A man was reading a small tribute to each person who died in the towers. It's hard to believe that it has been four years. On Sept. 11 Roxana and I had just started our business (Smart City Kids) and our first workshop (on getting into nursery school) was Sept. 12. We wanted to cancel, but couldn't reach the enrollees so we went to the workshop figuring no one would show up. Everyone came and they insisted we put on the class. That's when I first learned how crazy the school admissions experience makes NYC parents. Before I started Smart City Kids, I worked at the Amex Tower, which was right across the street from the World Trade Center. We lived on 15th St. then, so I'd take the subway and get off at Courtland St, the WTC stop. I was in the tower every work day for fifteen years. I felt like I knew that bottom retail floor like it was my own building. Claire's was there, the Disney Store, Borders, Kelly's photo, Godiva Chocolate, Citibank, Duane Reade - these were all the places I'd shop. Once I slipped on the marble floor of the mall because I was wearing Arche shoes which were dangerous when they came into contact with anything wet. Lots of people stopped to help me. At the bottom of the escalator, when you walked across the West Street Bridge, a little old lady who would stand there every day and say (over and over again in a very high pitched Southern drawl) - Please Feed me, I'm hungry. I used that lady in The Ivy Chronicles. I still wonder where she went after the Towers came down.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

an exciting acquisition 

A quick update on yesterday's shopping trip. Bloomingdale's was a bust. And it turns out that no tax week means no tax on clothing purchases of $100 or less. I failed to read the fine print. So, we took the subway to Sleepies near Union Square where we bought Sam a very nice, comfy bed. And it is with great excitement that I announce...ta da!...that Mark and I have purchased a new bed! We both laid (lay??) down on this computerized bed which told us which model of this ridiculously expensive bed we should buy. Mark was a 2 and I was a high-1. But the 1 was like sleeping on a cloud, so we bought that. If we sleep on it for two weeks and don't like it, we can return it (for a $249 fee because supposedly they destroy the mattress if you return it - right! And if anyone shops the Sleepies discount outlet, I assure you it is the final resting place of all their returned beds). Anyway, the bed's coming tomorrow. Mark kept saying..."are you sure we need a new mattress?" HELLO! Have you not noticed the hills and valleys in our current mattress? When we have sex, I'll say "meet me on the mountain part of the mattress for some action." Sometimes we fall into one of the many valleys which makes our lovemaking all the more exciting. Schuyler, if you're reading this, ignore what I just wrote. Seriously, our mattress is 24 years old - as old as our marriage. I read recently that every ten years your mattress weight doubles because of dust mites. This means our mattress must weigh at least 300 pounds, maybe more. I can't imagine how many of those critters must be inside our pillows. Eauwww! I'm grossing myself out.

I made the turkey meat loaf today and oversalted it, unfortunately. But I think if I made it and salted it less, it would actually taste good. So I may have to just try that recipe again. I was a little nervous about what ground turkey would taste like, but you can hardly tell the difference between it and beef. My chicken dishes still look too unappetizing to eat so I'll probably toss those. I did meet a homeless woman on the street today who wanted money. I was stone cold broke at the time so I offered her the fruit I'd just purchased at the Amish market which she declined because she'd had a stomach ache yesterday. Then I offered her the grilled vegies and taboulle salad I'd gotten but she said no to that as well. I tried to do a good deed. And it really was a good deed because if she'd taken my grilled vegies and salad, I would have been forced to eat my diet orange chicken - gag!!! I would have offered to bring her some of that, but I'm sure she would have rejected it the moment she saw it.

Have a good one...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A slow weekend 

Hey there friends and family members who read my blog. Happy Labor Day. We've had a very quiet weekend, which is my favorite kind. I think my family is the only one who stayed in New York City this holiday. Last night, Mark and I went to the local sushi restaurant (did I mention that I really hate suschi, but Mark loves it) and we were the only ones there. The service was great. Then we went to Birdland, which is a jazz club near Times Square, and saw a big Latin band led by Arturo O'Farrell, son of the late, great, Chico O'Farrell. The show was excellent but I drank too much vino and paid for it this morning. I suppose it's my last hurrah before the big diet starts once again tomorrow. Yesterday I cooked all these low-fat dishes so that I'd have low fat food to eat all week long. Nothing I cooked looks good at all - this orange chicken dish, a Mexican chicken casserole, and sweet potato pudding (well, that looks good - I made my usual sweet potato pudding without butter). I'm really a very bad cook, generally speaking. You would not want to each anything I made except for brownies from a mix or chopped liver which I'm talented at making. Tonight I'm preparing turkey meat loaf. I may end up throwing all this food away if it tastes as bad as it looks. Let's hope it surprises me. I think I'm going to try the 3-hour diet which involves eating small meals every 3-hours. According to the book, it really works. We'll see. My mom and I are going for our annual visit to Canyon Ranch in a few weeks - she gives me this as a birthday present every year. It's such a huge treat. But the problem is that you have to really exercise and get in shape before you go or you won't be able to do anything when you get there. So, I've established a new rule which is that I don't get to start my writing until I've worked out. That has worked out well for the last week.

Schuyler and I just went out to buy her a full length mirror which we purchased at Discount-Land, a very dirty store across the street from our apartment. But the mirror was only $12.99. Seriously, I don't think that store has been swept, dusted, or cleaned since it opened in 1963. But the prices are from 1963 which is why I give them my business even though I have to take a shower after I go there. Later, Mark and I are going to Bloomingdale's to look for a new bed for Sam - his is on the verge of collapse. Last time he had a friend over, I wouldn't let anyone sleep on the top bunk for fear of a collapse. We're also looking for a new couch. Ours is embarassingly falling apart. This is a good day to shop due to 1) no tax week and 2) Labor Day sales. We're also doing back to school shopping today, which my kids are utterly depressed about. They wish summer would go on forever. I'm with you on that one kids.

I've given my new book, India Fudge and the Time Travel Tunnel to my brother, Don, my friends Kathleen and Bonnie, our babysitter, Bev, and Schuyler's friend, Rachel, to read. I'm very anxious for their feedback. It's always so nerve-wracking to let your baby out for public adoration or ridicule. You wonder if you're deluded to think it's good or are you right? Did they expect the ending or were you able to surprise them? Do they like the main characters? Would they like to see them again in a sequel? My friend, Brooke, loves the book. Sam and Schuyler both liked it but gave me lots of good critical feedback. I've also sent it to my agent who always gives me helpful comments to make improve my work. So fingers and toes are crossed that I've written something that people will enjoy reading. I had so much fun writing it and I'd love to do a sequel.

Ooops, my husband is calling. Time to take the subway up to Bloomies. Ciao for now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina 

Apologies for not writing in a while. I've been deep underground working on my India Fudge book. My desk is a mess, there's no food in the house, the kids have forgotten they have a mother. But I finished the draft and passed it on to the powers that be and now I can come up for air. Ahhhhhh! Meanwhile, I've been watching the reports from Louisiana and Mississippi and praying for everyone down there. My heart goes out to all the people affected by the hurricane - words cannot describe the devastation and loss. I've been watching all the news reports and just weeping at the tragic stories coming out of there. I cannot fathom that this is happening in our country. Why can't the government get food and water to these people? It makes no sense. We can send spaceships to Mars but we can't drop palettes of water for those in need??? There's a fundraiser on NBC tomorrow night and those of us with electricity should watch and give generously. Or you can just go to the Red Cross site and donate. I've already given to the Red Cross and I'm planning to call in and give more tomorrow night. Here's hoping Leonardo di Caprio answers the phone when I call. Why do they always show him answering phones at all the disaster relief telethons? Seriously, you watch - they'll show him the most tomorrow night. Why? God only knows.

I did hear from my friend Brad who lives in New Orleans and managed to get out of there. I'll pass on his message for those of you who might like to hear directly from the front lines. Here goes...

Well, first let me say we're high and dry. Max and I departed New Orleans last Saturday night/Sunday morning just after midnight. Turned out to be a good plan, as we drove all the way to Jacksonville, Florida with no traffic whatsoever. We're actually just outside of Jacksonville, in the small, small, small country town of Hilliard, Florida (one red light), which is just below the Georgia line. We're talking cows in the yard country here people! A place where they differentiate between "house dogs", "yard dogs", and "hunting dogs". Needless to say Max is a "house dog" - he doesn't even like to associate with the "yard dogs"!

The home is that of my good friend Art's brother and family. Art, as some of you may know, moved back up here from New Orleans just before the beginning of summer. Good timing on his part. The family consists of Kenny, Connie, and their kids Ethan -14, and Bayley - 5. Ethan, whose nickname is "Bubba", is on the junior varsity football team and is already the size of a small fridge. Bayley, whose nickname is "Damnit girl, I said stop that!", looks like a young Pamela Anderson, and acts like she's 18. But they're all good people, and have been really gracious to open their home to Max and I. Not a lot of people are able to take in someone who comes equipped with a 104 pound German Shepherd. I told Art I've gone from Queer as Folk to Country as Folk.

I'll probably stay here a few more days, then get back on the road and head up to stay with my dad and step-mom in Bethany, Delaware. It could be a good month or four before we can even get back to the city, and who knows how long after that before power is restored. I haven't been able to find out any specific information regarding my house or neighborhood, other than the aerial footage I've seen of the Fairgrounds, which is two blocks over. Various reports have put the water levels in my area at 6 - 10 feet. My house is 3 feet off the ground, so who knows what that really means -- if, whenever I can actually get back there, I'll find anything left, or salvageable. Not really the way I had wanted to start a new wardrobe.

Tulane (University, where I work), from what I've heard, also has a good bit of water on it. No telling when it will open back up. Also not sure what they're going to do in regards to staff, specifically payroll. Oy, if you see me greeting at a Wal-Mart, say hi! Actually, Art said he was at the Wal-Mart in Jacksonville the other day and they were soliciting donations for hurricane victims via a bucket at the door. I said, "Good -- can I go show my ID and get it?"

Fortunately it's not as bad as all that. Yet. But I really did think this was going to be another situation where it was best to get out of town, and then we'd be back in a few days. Sooooo all I packed were a few items of clothes, some food for Max, and a six pack of diet coke for the road. Left behind the brand new desktop computer, the clothes, the shelf of photo albums with all my pics from the cruise ship, Max's meds, and, well, everything that was life as I knew it. But, the dog, the car and I are safe. And in the end, that's what matters.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed or called with concern. My cell phone doesn't get reception here in Hilliard, but earlier today while we were in Jacksonville I got signal and was able to access my voice mail for the first time.

Don't think life is all bad though - I'm enjoying a cocktail and Max has two kids fawning over him with long-lasting belly rubs.

I'll send more updates as things progress. If you're a New Orleans refugee as well, let me know how you're doing and where you're at.


~Brad and Max

P.S. Connie just got home and told us that all the gas stations as far as Jacksonville are almost out of gas, and don't know when the trucks will arrive next.

Here's another firsthand report from one of Brad's friends (let's all count our blessings)...

HI brad its very good that you got out. my family and i were not going to leave, we NEVER leave. but it has also never been a cat5. so we left at the last minute Sunday afternoon.me, sister mom and grandparents....dad and brother were too stubborn do they stayed.

we drove toward slidell thinking we were going to florida....it took 5 hours to get to slidell......so we turned and stopped in mandeville at my great aunt's house(88 years old) thinking we were going to pick her up and go. she said she didn't want to go and she knew where she was better off.

so then we got on I12 and headed back west traffic free.....until we got to i10 in BR from there we go on to i90 and continued to opelousas louisiana. by this time it was midnight and we stopped here to look for a hotel. of course none were available so we followed a policeman to a shelter where we slept outside in the parking lot me mom and sis in the minivan and grandparents in the truck.

the next morning we found a nearby holiday inn that was full and allowing people to sleep in banquet rooms and the lobby. we took a few things to an upstairs mezzanine planning to sleep there for the night. this was not necessary, the head of housekeeping gave up the suite that she and another staff member were staying in. the people in opelousas are VERY nice.

after that 1st night we were able to book 2 rooms in the holiday inn. and meals for the entire hotel were donated 1st by the rotary club, next by an individual, and some by the hotel itself.
locals even came by and offered rooms in their homes for people in need. the same lady that gave us her room informed us of a man that offered a currently uninhabited HOUSE yes a whole house. we went to look at it and thought of staying there until my brother. his wife and my father arrived. by this time we were able to contact a cousin in monroe who offered her home to us. i am still waiting on the group's decision as to where we are going.

my brother and his wife were staying in a days inn on the i10 service road near severn. he witnessed the hurricane from the 4th floor, flying light poles and all. the day that they left he waded through waist deep water in the lobby and hitched a ride in the back of a truck to the vets. exit where he proceeded though lafraniere park in more high water fighting off snakes and rats with a large knife.

when he made it to our house there were people posing in front of it for pictures. the front wall of this 2story brick building was torn down by katrina. the bricks buried the front of my car and the cab of my sister' truck. (one good thing I GET A NEW CAR!!!!!) my brother threatened suspicious people gathered a few belongings and met my dad in kenner where the business took in 2 inches of water. from there they made their way to us here in opelousas


Thursday, September 01, 2005

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